Toxic Fungus (Stachybotrys)
Stachybotrys is a greenish-black fungus that is typically wet and slimy to the touch. It can grow on material with a high cellulose and low nitrogen content, such as fiberboard, gypsum board, paper, dust, and lint. Growth occurs when there is moisture from water damage, excessive humidity, water leaks, condensation, water infiltration, or flooding. Constant moisture is required for its growth. It is not necessary, however, to determine what type of mold you may have. All molds should be treated the same with respect to potential health risks and removal.
Stachybotrys are known to produce potent mycotoxins under certain circumstances. Although some mycotoxins are well known to affect humans and have been shown to be responsible for human health effects, for many mycotoxins, little information is available, and in some cases research is ongoing. In fact, the EPA has set no strict regulations or guidelines for determining the health risks associated with Stachybotrys.
Stachybotrys has been linked by the Center for Disease and Control to 10 cases of lung disorder in infants and 100 other cases. In 1993, there were a number of cases of acute pulmonary hemorrhage in nearly 30 infants after homes were flooded. The CDC does not completely know the specific cause of these deaths. However, they eventually concluded that significant exposure to, in addition to other hydrophilic molds, played a significant role in the development of this severe and fatal lung disease. In addition, preliminary reports from an investigation of an outbreak of pulmonary hemorrhage in infants suggested an association between pulmonary hemorrhage and exposure to Stachybotrys. Review of the evidence of this association at the CDC resulted in a published clarification stating that such an association was not established. Research on the possible causes of pulmonary hemorrhage in infants continues.
Stachybotrys growing in homes indicates that there is a problem with water or moisture. Stachybotrys can be cleaned off surfaces with a weak bleach solution. Mold under carpets typically requires that the carpets be removed. Once Stachybotrys starts to grow in insulation or wallboard the only way to deal with the problem is by removal and replacement. Removing cultures of Stachybotrys must be undertaken with great care to contain the spread of dangerous spores. In areas where flooding has occurred, prompt cleaning of walls and other flood-damaged items with water mixed with chlorine bleach, diluted 10 parts water to 1 part bleach, is necessary to prevent mold growth. Never mix bleach with ammonia. Moldy items should be discarded.